Love is love when kids are shamed to their peers and outed to their parents.
One love together while queer people and businesses see rises in hate crimes.
Pride for all except those LGBTIQA+ people in countries and camps and on boats, forced out of their countries by wars and laws and Britain decides they should be allowed to die.
We live in times of a resurged, pulsating queerphobic repression, which ties with a renewed backlash against the calls for black and women's liberation.
What is corporate, mainstream Pride to those who are denied good housing, are in abusive situations, or have a disability that impacts their comprehension, their creativity, their place in an increasingly online community?
A distant glimmer of hope? Of what their lives could be, much like opulent reality TV in that way.
I vividly remember someone in the year lower than mine, who came out as bi. But they struggled: they came from the more deprived side of town, and was being ostracised by their previous friends.
You can tell from a glance at their face the situation wasn't ideal. What is Pride if your college on one hand offers rainbow flags and 'Pride Clubs' while it's senior leadership mocks the 'rainbow alliance' students.
What is Pride when gay white men take to Facebook to condemn their favourite gay bar for saying police brutality is bad? This isn't a universal experience, what even is a universal experience really. For instance, I can only listen to and learn from the experiences of those who are people of colour to understand their experience and understanding of this more thoroughly. Yet there is a shared oppression here.
The problem with Pride, and queer culture, at times is that it becomes gestures. Gestures don't save kids, or fix healthcare, or stop hate crimes.
Actions do. Actions towards liberation in the face of actions towards fascism. We, the LGBTIQA+ Community and allies, sometimes take an easy, dissonant approach: we retweet as individuals Pink News threads mocking Tories for using pronouns while ignoring the fact these people are normalising the idea to the public that trans people are a cultural craze that needs to be eradicated.
We post Simpsons memes of Florida being a monster while the state prepares to subtly exterminate it's LGBTIQA+ population as silence from the press prevails. We applaud the BBC for having a drag act at the Eurovision semi-finals while the organisation both sides fascist protesters at Drag Queen Story Time and interviews an anti-trans conspiracy theorist on a 'fact checking' programme.
We therefore have a gesture based politics that can not achieve liberation. There is a trend of people who say they want to fix things, but in the end, what do they do? Little, aside gaining clout. These people in many ways undermine liberation by making it a fashion. Often they are white, like me, and will have the least to lose if we lose as a collective struggle.
Can a Pride based on selling Pride edition Coca Cola bottles achieve political liberation? I hope you the reader feel insulted by the suggestion it can in the question. What is the point of a brand like Target in the United States endorsing Pride up until the point it received backlash? They were never true allies, and neither has the allyship of corporations done much to prevent repressive laws against our community emerge. Disney Land Florida's Pride has not hindered a potential future US president, Governor DeSantis.
Yet, there are consistent flashes of hope. The rise of community organising is necessary and positive, especially in regards to housing and medical access. The rise in Prides like Black Pride and Trans Pride in recent years is warming to see: to see people who either are invisible or ridiculed in the press to have a built from the ground up Pride is something for us all to be proud of- because that’s how Pride back in 1972 first came about. It is in community, at it’s heart, where we can find Pride.
It is also in the cultures we make ourselves- underground dance floors without corporate sponsorships, vape-like smoke blown in your face from the ceiling and knowing everyone around you isn't judging you for being you (hideous outfit aside), In that, then, is part, though not the only (how could it be) example of the joyous culture where there is discovery and affirmation.
There can be joy and pride, but that doesn't have to be at corporate mega events. It's at local community supported events. Attacking corporate Pride isn't new, but never has the situation it exists in so dire. We know acceptance, as that's what corporate Pride is, comes and goes.
A true part of Pride is the aim of liberation and celebration. The recent protests against a speaker who expresses transphobic messages in Oxford, joined by Green councillors too, are an expression and action of a whole community that is fighting for its existence threatened by the legitimisation of an idea that requires for its success the depersonalisation and reducing of trans people, and is part of a wider ideology that seeks to push all LGBT+ people into suppression, like in Florida, even like in Uganda.
The last two places mentioned are not ‘a warning from history’- they are happening now and the politics, animated by its structural existence and supporters, that it derives from -in the shape of Christian Fundamentalism and renewed insidious Colonialism- Capitalism, is pushing for this now in our country today through are media and through the two biggest political parties.
For Pride, let's have it on our community's terms, and have pride in our ability to and aim to liberate our societies, and be able to within that celebrate something authentic.
Because that is what Pride really, truly is without a corporate sponsorship.
By Seb Cousins